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2011.08.24 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Nebraska Net Domestic Migration Improving

Omaha - Recently released migration statistics show that Nebraska had a net gain of residents from Arizona, Florida, and Georgia for the first time in over 20 years of available data. Combined with only the second net inmigration from Nevada, breaking a string of 15 consecutive outmigration years to Nevada, this information shows Nebraska’s improved migration performance with states hit hard in the housing and economic downturn.

Not only was net inmigration from these states unusual, but it was also high in comparison to other states. The net gain of over 300 residents from Florida was the second best among all states, while Arizona and Georgia ranked as the 6th and 7th best net migration states for Nebraska in 2009. The gain of nearly 100 net residents from Nevada also ranked among the top ten net migration states (#9).

Nebraska gained residents on net from 22 states in 2009, the same as in 2008, but higher than the average of net inmigration from only 13 states in the prior ten years. Nebraska netted the most people from California, with the gain of just over 1,000 persons being the 20th consecutive year of net inmigration from the Golden State. Nebraska has typically had its largest net inmigration from California, an outcome that has occurred in 17 of the last 21 years.

Gains were not limited to states in the South and West regions of the U.S. For the first time in the 21-year series of data, Nebraska had a net inmigration from all Midwest states combined, led by increases from Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan, which ranked 3rd through 5th regarding Nebraska’s best migration performance. The net increase from Iowa occurred for only the sixth time in 21 years, and the net gain of nearly 300 persons was vastly different than a loss of nearly 800 to the Hawkeye State just four years earlier in 2006 when Nebraska’s largest overall outmigration occurred with Iowa.

Nebraska’s first net inmigrations from Arizona and Florida also stand out since these states are often the ones to which Nebraska has its largest net outmigration. Arizona has had the designation of the top net outmigration state six times over the past 21 years, the most of any state. Most of those largest outmigration years occurred in the late 1990s, and as recently as 2003 and 2005. Florida was the largest outmigration state twice, in 2002 and 2004. Nebraska has lost more net residents on average to Arizona and Florida than any other states since 1989. While Nebraska gained net residents from Arizona, neighboring Iowa, Missouri, and South Dakota all had net outmigrations to the Grand Canyon State.

Texas is now the top outmigration state, as Nebraska lost the most people to Texas on net for the third straight year, with each of those annual losses exceeding 1,000 persons. Previously, the worst net loss to Texas was about an 800 person dip in 1999. Nebraska has lost people to Texas for 14 consecutive years (since 1996). Texas gained net residents in 2009 from all states except Oklahoma, as well as the District of Columbia.

Nebraska lost the second most people to Wyoming, and has now had 10 straight years of decline with the Cowboy State. Likewise, Nebraska has now lost for 10 straight years to South Dakota. Like Texas, each of these neighboring states does not have a state income tax. Combined, losses to these three states totaled about 1,750 while Nebraska had a net gain of over 1,300 with all remaining states.

Overall, Nebraska had about 400 more people move out of the state than move into it from other states. While this was the 13th straight year of net domestic outmigration, it was the smallest outmigration in the current string and the best migration performance for the state since 1996. The net migration value in 2009 was about a 2,100 person improvement versus the prior year, when an outmigration of about 2,500 people occurred in 2008. This marks the second straight year of an improvement of about 2,100 persons, as the outmigration equaled more than 4,600 just three years ago.

Improvements in Nebraska’s migration were widespread, as the state witnessed better migration totals in 2009 than a year earlier with 28 states, including the best levels to date since 1989 with Pennsylvania, Idaho, and West Virginia. Nebraska snapped a 13 year skid of net losses to Kentucky and posted a gain from Minnesota for only the second time in the 21-year series of data that are based upon IRS records of where households file their tax return from one year to the next.

Improvements from 2008 to 2009 were concentrated among states hit hard by the housing crisis, as well as neighboring states. For example, Arizona had the largest improvement, a positive change of nearly 500 persons, as an outmigration of 273 in 2008 turned into an inmigration of 213 in 2009. Florida, California, Illinois, Georgia, and Nevada each with relatively high home foreclosure rates made the top 10 best improvements from 2008 to 2009. While Nebraska lost residents to South Dakota, the current loss was about 300 fewer than in the prior year. Kansas, Colorado, and Iowa also made the top 10 for best annual improvements. Improvements are stemming both from more residents coming to Nebraska from other states and fewer Nebraskans leaving the state for other locations.

Nebraska also had weaker net migration figures with some states, many of which returned to a more typical migration pattern in 2009. Nebraska had net inmigration from Missouri for only the third time in 2008, but slipped back to an outmigration of just over 100 in 2009, making the overall change between these years a drop of about 150. The change was similar for Alaska, as several states rich in natural resources (Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota) pulled Nebraskans their way. A regional pattern emerged as the change from 2008 to 2009 was relatively weak with south central states (Mississippi, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma). Nebraska had only its second inmigration since 1989 with Arkansas in 2008, but that reverted back to the typical outmigration in 2009, a general pattern also seen with Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Alabama.

The following results were compiled by David Drozd of the Center for Public Affairs Research at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO). For more information, contact Drozd: ddrozd@unomaha.edu or (402) 554-2132.

The Center for Public Affairs Research (CPAR) is an analytical community outreach unit of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of Nebraska Omaha. The Center leads the Nebraska State Data Center, compiling and disseminating various data for Nebraska and its communities that add to policy-making discussions.

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